Tag Archives: Institute For Brain Potential

We attend the “Toxic People” Seminar Sponsored By The Institute For Brain Potential (A Review)

Jim and I arrived late for the toxic people seminar. I am sure Dr. Joseph W. Shannon (the presenter) was not shocked by our apparent passive aggressiveness (or was it just that we are really bad at time management and following directions?). He didn’t bat an eyelash when we snuck in through the back door and claimed two vacant seats somewhere in the middle and toward the back. In fact, Dr. Shannon, was an amazing presenter. He was funny, quick witted, and (of course) an expert in his field. We have been to three continuing education classes sponsored by the Institute for Brain Potential and have not been disappointed once. The speakers are excellent, the material is easy to understand (even for regular non psychology folks) and there is always an abundance of useful information and strategies that people can implement into their everyday lives.


This seminar was about toxic people. Dr. Shannon presented information on toxic behaviors (creating psychodramas, aggressive energy, etc. ), personality disorders (Narcissistic, Borderline, Sociopathic, etc.), and, most importantly, strategies on how to detoxify from the encounters we have with toxic people. I want to share some of these strategies with you here because we have all experienced toxic behavior in our lives. It’s my hope that some of you will be able to benefit from this information as much as I have.


The best, number one thing you can do to stay sane in an insane world is to surround yourself with nurturing, supportive, and safe people. Yes, friends. Good friends are the best way to keep toxic people from stressing you out. Actually, any activity that nurtures you is an excellent way to counteract stress, according to Dr. Shannon. Exercise, art, gardening (these are a few of my favorite things, well, minus the exercise) might help you find some relief. Apparently, my usual methods of coping with stress like eating excess chocolate, ruminating, complaining loudly, and crying to my mother weren’t exactly at the top of the list for best practices. Although, maybe crying to my mom was kind of an acceptable coping strategy because she is certainly one of my best friends, so, looking at the positive, I did have a few things going for me even before attending the seminar.

Boundaries are important, keeping them even more important. Dr. Shannon said, “Promise less than you can give and give more than you promise.” I think this may become my new life mantra. He talked a lot about having expectations that were just too high for both ourselves and for others. When our expectations are chronically too high we end up spending our lives feeling disappointed. This made sense to me because I tend to expect way too much out of myself and out of others. How many times have I expected to keep my house spotless, the dogs groomed, play with Tiny-Small, grow a garden, paint and sell paintings, write a blog, make dinner, bake cookies…blah, blah, blah and all in one day? Sometimes having an expert say good enough is actually good enough gives you the permission to be a little more kind to yourself and more empathic to others. Besides, we shouldn’t be determining what another person is capable of. I mean, how would we even know? It’s a good idea to promise less than you think can because if you only do what you promise people are happy and if you do more than you promise people are even happier. No more disappointment! What a great way to keep everyone smiling.

Most of the seminar was really about how not to become a toxic person. I know, you would never consider being toxic, but it was a terrific approach because we can only change our own behavior, right? Also, sometimes, the stress of dealing with toxicity can turn a healthy, happy person into a super tired, grouchy human that lashes out at unsuspecting and innocent people. This is why it is so important to take care of our own stress levels. We don’t want to pass this toxic stuff onto other people or our loving family members. In fact, it’s much better to spread positive energy around. Smile at people, help people, do kind things and put that out into the universe instead. What goes around comes around, so, might as well make it a good thing, right?


We all encounter toxic people. Sometimes it’s through work (the boss that takes credit for what you do right and blames you for what he or she does wrong) and sometimes it’s through family (the you’re in the will you’re out of the will types). According to Dr. Shannon, the best thing for your health is to get out of these toxic situations all together. Get a new job! Maybe, even get a new family. In all seriousness, sometimes we can’t remove these people from our lives so we have to do our best to live with them and create some type of stress reducing harmony. Try not to push their buttons (if you can figure out what their buttons are), maintain clear and set boundaries, and learn to communicate with them as efficiently as possible. In this seminar, the D.E.S.K. model for communication was endorsed:

D. Describe the behavior

E. Express the feelings you have about the behavior using “I” statements.

S. State the need or want that you have and a request for a change in the behavior.

K. Know you may not get the change you request.

From experience, I can tell you it takes some practice to communicate in this way, but it is well worth learning to do. Of course, there will be times when you are too tired, hungry, sick (fill in the blank) to control yourself or your tongue. There will be days when you push all of the toxic person’s buttons and they will push yours (yep, they are unnaturally skilled at pushing your buttons and no, it’s not just your imagination) because you are stressed out and lack the energy to use your coping skills. It’s not always easy to take the high road and it’s not always easy to be healthy. Just like exercise, it takes some effort to nurture your mental health as well as your body.

In conclusion, this seminar was excellent. I hope you get a chance to attend it. I also challenge you to take better care of your health. It’s much like when the the flight attendant instructs you to put your own oxygen mask on first before you attempt to take care of the person next to you. If we don’t take care of ourselves we won’t be in the proper space (physically or mentally) to take care of anyone else. This is easier said than done, but like most good things it takes some hard work and effort. It’s worth it though because to put it as bluntly as possible: Stress kills. Stroke, heart attack, auto immune diseases are often the result of too much stress. Don’t be a victim (another toxic personality) and start managing your stress. Start today!


Want to know more about personality disorders and how to deal with toxic people? Check out these books on Amazon. I’ve bought them and found them to be both informative  and helpful.


*The author is not affiliated with the Institute For Brain Potential or Dr. Shannon and was in no way compensated for writing this review or endorsing this seminar. This blog is an Amazon affiliate.


Want to read about how I ended up attending this seminar? Read about it here: Toxic People: A Seminar I Might Be Starring In.

Toxic People: A Seminar I Might Be Starring In

So, I have a couple of somewhat useless degrees in psychology (mostly because I chose to become a stay at home mom moments after finishing my graduate degree and haven’t had a chance to use it) and my husband is a Speech Therapist (he always makes me write it in caps). That means we get things in the mail like this: Toxic People: Living and Working With High-Conflict Individuals (A Seminar For Health Professionals). This one really caught my attention because I live with some high conflict people and I may even be called one myself if my husband had any say in this blog (yeah, I am sticking my tongue out in his general direction – write you’re own blog, buddy). In all seriousness, the high conflict person in our family is a toddler so, you know, hopefully she’ll outgrow it.

The truth is though, I am like a toxic person magnet. People with serious problems, anger issues, and an overall crankster personality are attracted to me in some twisted karmic way and I want to put an end to it. Yeah, I know, you’re going to say we all have this problem, but I am not talking about the family member that turns toxic in short bursts, drives you crazy for a while and them mysteriously goes back to normal. I am talking about people with pervasive problems that latch onto you and eventually make you exhausted and ill. I’m talking about dangerous stalker types that fixate and make plans to somehow ruin you or make you scared and miserable. I’m talking about people who end up in jail sooner or later and you are not surprised at all. I think this is what got me into psychology in the first place. I mean what the heck, why does my smiling at you once mean I want you to follow me around the grocery store making creepy comments and giving me unwanted once overs?

Then, there are also the people that latch onto you and dump all of their problems on you (problems that they don’t really want to do anything about). They want you to listen to them complain about life, people, situations endlessly, but they have no real interest in doing much about it. The kind of people whose friendship is all about you listening to them gripe and when they are hard pressed they can barely remember your name or what your favorite food is. They don’t know anything about you because they don’t actually listen to what you say. To them you are just an object that nods, listens and occasionally murmurs encouraging words, words (to them) that sound like the teacher in a Peanuts cartoon. Then, in an instant they turn on you, hate you, and try to make your life miserable for something you did, but you never find out what that something was. You’re just standing there dumbfounded wondering if they are going to come to your house later and throw a rock through your window. Yeah, I attract those types too.

It’s not easy to make friends because the entire time I am wondering if they are eventually going to turn into a raging bully with lunatic tendencies. I’ve become a picky friend chooser. I’m thinking can you fill out this questionnaire and pee in this cup before we make plans for lunch? Sometimes my magnetic pull on the unstable is so strong that I am afraid to leave the house. I am hoping this seminar will tell me where the off button is so I can go out into the world untarnished by the unrepentant weirdos in the world. I’m tired of playing defense. I want to meet nice people for a change.

The seminar promises to instruct me on how to be “…proactive with difficult people and difficult situations.” and give me tips on “Expressing needs safely to facilitate meaningful change.” My all time favorite thing the seminar claims to help with is “Creating Boundaries: who should you not interact with and why.” Yes, that is what I need. I need better boundaries. I need to learn to say, “NO!” in a loud and commanding voice. My father-in-law recently told me that “no” was the easiest and shortest word in the English language to say. Even my 21 month old daughter says it with more ease and forcefulness than I do. It’s her default answer. She always says no and asks questions later. I admire her for that. I hope I can start being more courageous and more honest with people in my life. I am learning. Baby-steps here and baby steps there. So far, people don’t really like the changes I am making. Sometimes my saying no causes tantrums and foot stomping (from adults not children) and I just have to be still and wait for it to pass.

I’m signing up for this seminar. Friends and family beware. A loud “no” might be in your future. I’m going to stop being the doormat and start being the door, at least in theory. I’m not striving for perfection, but maybe some equilibrium. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that I don’t turn out to be the crazy one because that’s certainly a possibility. Of course, I use the term “crazy” loosely, especially when it applies to me.



I attended the seminar. Want to hear about my experience? Read about it here: We Attend “The Toxic” People Seminar….